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How to Use the Truth to Build Your Credibility


There are irrefutable truths in the workplace that no con-artist can talk around no matter how hard he or she may try.

What I have never understood is the motivation of those who perpetuate disinformation to fog the truth. It is baffling to me how individuals can spend huge amounts of time and energy creating a campaign to convince us the sky is green when we all know the sky is really blue.

There was a time when I thought I needed to understand why my co-workers, or management, would intentionally seed false or misleading information. There must be a reason why they want us to believe the sky is green, right?

Time and experience has taught me that it doesn’t matter one whit if they have a reason or not.

We must always work from the truth.

I use the plain and simple truth to get the job done and build my credibility and personal brand in the process.

I let the facts and figures tell the story, show the analytics and explain the complications of any situation.  

Facts are stubborn things

Use the facts to support your work and the goals of the organization. And do it professionally, timely and with a high rate of frequency.

The key to most facts is to frame them with the associated risk and then be as repetitive as a myna bird in telling the story. Use all lines of communication to meet this end, in meetings, emails, memos and in person.

It may seem counterintuitive, but it will take many attempts for the truth to be heard. Remember, you’re likely working up against disinformation.

Several years ago I worked for a large public Fortune 500 corporation in their corporate office. Their database was in dire need of an upgrade and I was responsible for the platform. We were rapidly approaching the phrase that haunts all IT professionals: “Your platform will be de-supported by end of year.”

I knew this would be an uphill battle as this was a seven figure project and would take upwards of eight months to complete and properly test. The VP Corporate Controller was poisoning the airwaves with disinformation that the upgrade was not required and the risk was minimal. And to make matters worse I reported up to him directly. I, however, was known for my veracity.

I was the one completely responsible if the platform failed and I knew I had to fully harness the power of the truth to get the upgrade done.

I crafted my messaging around the fact that the platform would be de-supported by the vendor and clearly outlined the risk. I repeatedly messaged the facts and the associated risk – 22 times over 60 days.

My message was not complicated. It was really quite simple – choose not to upgrade the platform, have it fail and risk not making an earnings release. Since we had never missed an earnings release before, the stock would take a direct hit.

Using the facts accomplished two things:

  • It allowed me to push hard, always professionally, to get the job done. It was not fabricated nor window dressed.  
  • The risk and associated solution was provided to management more than 22 times. If they chose to do nothing, I was covered.

Facts are stubborn things.

Figures don’t lie but liars figure

The key to using numbers to make your point is preparation. Do your homework and be sure you have the numbers absolutely dialed in. Always work with “actuals” here – meaning numbers that have been closed and previously published.

Don’t get caught up in the fray of disinformation and certainly don’t prepare disinformation for someone else to use. You’re in a race to zero if you play that game. If your manager is asking you to prepare “alternate numbers” be sure they are clearly footnoted as “modeling, projections or scenario driven.”

On another occasion I presented a summary of outside legal expenses to a business unit executive and let the figures tell the story. In our meeting I explained to him that through six months the business unit had spent 92% of the allocated legal dollars for the entire year.

He was not happy, barked at me and said, “How are you going to fix this?” Certainly I thought, not with fake news. I handed him copies of every invoice that made up the six month total and he reviewed them intently for several minutes. He then thanked me for my time and dismissed me.

His sign-off signature was on every invoice. Figures don’t lie.

Using the truth to move your work forward and to move the organization forward can be, at times, difficult. You may be seen as a lightning rod and that is admittedly a hard place to be.

When you stick to the truth you build your credibility and your personal brand all while getting the job done.

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